This photo developed from a found roll of film shows the group setting up their final camp on February 2, 1959.
Nearly 1,000 people were injured in Russia last year when a meteor exploded somewhere over the Ural Mountains. But crazy cosmic phenomena are nothing new in the Ural range: 54 years ago the northern part of the Urals played host to one of the most fascinating unsolved mysteries in the modern age.
On the surface, what’s become known as the Dyatlov Pass incident seems fairly explicable: Of a party of ten skiiers, nine perished in the middle of a high-difficulty trek in conditions that reached -30 degrees Celsius. But the details, which are mostly based on diaries of those involved as well as records from Soviet investigators, are chilling: On the night of February 2, 1959, members of the party apparently ripped their tent open from the inside, and wandered into the tundra wearing nothing but what they wore to bed.
The Dyatlov Pass incident occurred during the rule of the Soviets over Russia and although there were no eyewitnesses or survivors to what actually happened the Soviet army did investigate the incident and locate the bodies of the 9 hikers.
Three weeks later, five bodies were found, some hundreds of meters down a slope from the original camp. It took two more months for investigators to find the other four bodies, which, curiously, were partially clothed in articles belonging to the earlier-discovered dead. Tests of those clothes found high levels of radiation. Despite that, and heavy internal trauma, including fractured skulls and broken ribs, suffered by some members of the party, Russian investigators reported they could not find evidence of foul play, and quickly shut the case.
Soviet investigators at the time determined only that a “compelling unknown force” had caused their deaths. For 3 years after the incident, 1959-62, the Soviets forbid access to the area to skiers and hikers.
The group was made up of students and graduates of the Ural State Technical University, (Most of them were students or graduates of the Ural Polytechnical Institute (now Ural State Technical University) all of whom were experienced in backcountry expeditions. The trip, organized by 23 year old Igor Dyatlov, was meant to explore the slopes Otorten mountain (Mt. Otorten– which means “Don’t go there” in the native tongue) in the nothern part of the Ural range, and started on January 28, 1959. Yuri Yudin, the only member of the expedition to survive, got sick before the crew made it fully into the backcountry, and stayed behind at a village. The other nine trekked on, and according to photographs developed from rolls recovered by investigators, Dyatlov’s crew set up camp in the early evening of February 2 on the slopes of a mountain next to Ortoten.
That mountain is known to the local, indigenous Mansi tribe as Kholat Syakhl, which supposedly translates to “Mountain of the Dead.” The decision to camp on the mountain’s slope makes little sense. The group was reportedly only about a mile from the treeline, where they could have found at least a bit more shelter in the subzero conditions. They didn’t appear to be strapped for time, and setting up camp on the face of a mountain rather than within a nearby forest is questionable, although not indefensible.
“Dyatlov probably did not want to lose the distance they had covered, or he decided to practice camping on the mountain slope,” Yudin told the St. Petersburg Times in 2008.
Yudin hugging Dubinina prior to leaving the expedition. Via
That camp would be the group’s last. Dyatlov had previously said that the team expected to be back in contact on February 12 of that year, but also said that the group might take longer than expected. It wasn’t until around the 20th that the alarm was raised, and by the 26th the camp had been found by volunteer search and rescue teams.
When official investigators arrived, they noted that the tents appeared cut apart from within, and found footprints from eight or nine people leaving the tents and heading off downslope in the direction of the treeline. According to investigators, the group’s shoes and gear were left behind, and the footprints suggested some people were barefoot or wearing nothing but socks. In other words, they all shredded their way out of their tent and ran off through waist-deep snow in a huge hurry, despite there being no evidence of other people or foul play within the group.
The first two bodies were found at the treeline, under a giant pine tree. Remember that the treeline was about a mile away; investigators wrote that footprints disappeared about a third of a way there, although that could have been due to weather in the three weeks it took for investigators to arrive. The two bodies found were both wearing only their underwear, and both were barefoot. According to reports, branches were broken high up the tree in question, which suggested someone had tried to climb it. The remains of a fire lay nearby.
Three more bodies, including Dyatlov’s, were found at points in between the camp and the big tree, and apparently lay as if they were headed back to the camp. One of them, Rustem Slobodin, had a fractured skull, although doctors declared it non-fatal, and the criminal investigation was closed after doctors ruled the five had died of hypothermia.
Two months passed until the remaining four bodies were found buried under a dozen feet of snow in a gully a few hundred feet downslope from the big tree. The inexplicable behavior of the prior five members of the party aside, it was the discovery of this quartet that was most horrific. All four suffered traumatic deaths, despite there being no outward appearance of trauma. One, Nicolas Thibeaux-Brignollel, also had a fractured skull. Alexander Zolotariov was found with crushed ribs. Ludmila Dubinina also had broken ribs, and was also missing her tongue.
It is possible that the group was searching for help–despite being in, essentially, the middle of nowhere, while missing gear in sub-zero temperatures–before they fell into a ravine. But that doesn’t explain Dubinina’s missing tongue. And while some at the time posited that the group had been attacked by Mansi tribesmen, coroners at the time stated that the trauma found required more force than humans could inflict, especially considering there wasn’t accompanying outward trauma.
“It was equal to the effect of a car crash,” said Boris Vozrozhdenny, one of the doctors on the case, according to unsealed documents looked at by the Times.
Photo from investigators showing the condition of the group’s tent. Via
It gets weirder. The final four were better outfitted than the other five, and apparently had taken clothes off the dead as they continued their aimless trek. Zolotariov, for example, was found wearing Dubinina’s coat and hat, while she in turn had wrapped around her foot a piece of the wool pants that one of the two found at the pine tree had been wearing. To add to the mystery, the clothes found on the final group were tested and found to be radioactive.
The radioactivity is hard to explain, but the rest of the case does have an explanation that’s more plausible than the aliens and nuke experiments people many like to tie into the story. “Paradoxical undressing” is a reported phenomenon in those suffering from hypothermia, as is delirium. The most likely explanation for the disaster is that the team’s camp was buried in an avalanche, which would explain the cut-out tent and quite possibly some of the trauma. Should the team have been buried for any amount of time, hypothermia was likely to set in, which would go a long way towards explaining why they set off in search of help without any gear at all. Again, with five members of the team listed as having died of exposure, this scenario is most plausible. [However, if they were looking for help, why climb up to the tree line away from civilization?]
But the radioactivity found is truly odd, as is the treatment of the investigation itself. Documents related to the case were sealed after it was closed, and weren’t opened until sometime in the 1990s. I’ve been interested in the case for a while now and have tried to dig up new info, but my FOIA requests to the various US intelligence agencies have all turned up bupkis. The cause of the incident is still speculative, but interviews given by the lead investigator, Lev Ivanov, around the time the records were unsealed shine light on just how strange the case is.
Ivanov was the one who first noticed that the bodies and gear found were all radioactive, and said that a Geiger counter he’d brought with him went nuts all around the campsite. He also has said that Soviet officials told him at the time to clamp the case shut, despite reports that “bright flying spheres” had been reported in the area in February and March of 1959.
“I suspected at the time and am almost sure now that these bright flying spheres had a direct connection to the group’s death,” Ivanov told Kazakh newspaper Leninsky Put in an interview dug up by the Times.
Another group of students camped out around 30 miles from the other group reported similar sightings at that time. In written testimony, one said that he saw “a shining circular body fly over the village from the south-west to the north-east. The shining disc was practically the size of a full moon, a blue-white light surrounded by a blue halo. The halo brightly flashed like the flashes of distant lightning. When the body disappeared behind the horizon, the sky lit up in that place for a few more minutes.”
Similar reports of such spheres were also observed in Ivdel, a nearby village, and adjacent areas. These came from various witnesses including the meteorology service and the Soviet military!
The leading theory, considering the secrecy, radioactivity, and the appearance of some of the bodies, which were reported as being “deeply tanned” by a young boy attending some of their funerals, is that the group somehow came across a Soviet military testing ground. But, assuming reports are true, what caused the trauma to some members of the group is unknown.
It’s possible that one of the members saw some crazy light in the sky and everyone freaked out, running for their lives, but there has never been evidence of an explosion in the area, ruling out some sort of nuclear test or something of the like. But even so, that doesn’t explain the skull fractures. Some could be explained by a fall into the ravine, but remember, Slobodin had a fractured skull and was found on his return to the camp.
The fact that remains of a fire were found suggests some members of the group had control of their mental faculties, and psychosis isn’t a reported effect of acute exposure to radiation, but that doesn’t explain why the group appeared to have run for their lives without bringing any of their gear. So was it an accident or a cover-up? The simple story is probably best: The team was buried in an avalanche, and in a state of hypothermia-induced delirium, rushed off in search of help. Avalanches are incredibly powerful, and being caught in one could likely result in the types of blunt trauma some of the group received. [This still doesn’t add up. Their ribs and skulls were crushed, how could they possibly walk through feet of snow up hill? And the tongue??????]
Still, the lack of closure from the original investigation has left the incident as a favorite target of conspiracy theorists and alien hunters, and really, it’s a pretty weird tale. Ivanov, the investigator, has since passed away, and unless more military records are discovered and unsealed–which some advocates still call for–the records on hand aren’t enough to prove otherwise, and the mystery of what’s now known as the Dyatlov Pass is likely to endure.
Lyudmila Dubinina, Yuri Krivonischenko, Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle, Rustem Slobodin
In 2000, a regional TV company produced the documentary film “Dyatlov Pass” (“Перевал Дятлова”). With the help of the film crew, a Yekaterinburg writer, Anna Matveyeva (Анна Матвеева), published the fiction/documentary novella of the same name. A large part of the book includes broad quotations from the official case, diaries of victims, interviews with searchers and other documentaries collected by the film-makers. The narrative line of the book details the everyday life and thoughts of a modern woman (an alter ego of the author herself) who attempts to resolve the case.
Despite of presence of the fictional narrative part, the book of Matveyeva remains the largest source of documentary materials ever made available to the public. In addition, the pages of the case files and other documentaries (in photocopies and transcripts) are gradually published on the web-forum of enthusiastic researchers.
The Dyatlov Foundation has been founded in Yekaterinburg (Екатеринбург), with the help of Ural State Technical University, led by Yuri Kuntsevitch (Юрий Кунцевич). The foundation’s aim is to convince current Russian officials to reopen the investigation of the case, and to maintain the “Dyatlov Museum” to perpetuate the memory of the dead hikers.
Yuri Yudin, the sole survivor of the expedition, has stated, “If I had a chance to ask God just one question, it would be, “What really happened to my friends that night?'”
People in photo 2 :
Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle, Lyudmila Dubinina, Semen “Alexander” Zolotarev, Zinaida Kolmogorova
History of the Victim skiers
(Игорь Дятлов), the group’s leader. He was born in 1937. A student of the 5Th Faculty of Radio Engineering UPI university. A talented engineer designed and assembled a radio during his 2ND year, that was used during hikes in 1956 in Sayan Mountains. He also designed a small stove that was used since 1958 by Dyatlov himself. It was taken during the last trip since it proved its functionality. People who knew Igor described him as a thoughtful man who never rushed with his decisions. He courted Zina Kolmogorova who also took part of the hike. Apparently she liked him as well. Igor Dyatlov was one of the most experienced athletes in the group who also traced the path of the group.
Semen “Alexander” Zolotarev
Семен “Александр” Золотарёв)– He was born in 1921. He was the oldest and also the most mysterious member of the group. A native of North Caucasian Kuban Cossacks he survived the Great Patriotic War serving from October 1941 till May 1946. Survival rate for generation born in 1921- 22 was 3% so Semen Zolotarev was very very lucky man. Additionally his real name was Semen while everyone called him “Sasha” or “Alexander”. There is no credible evidence of why he chose to introduce himself by a different name. It is known that he joined a Communist party after the war. In April 1946 Zolotarev transferred to Leningrad Military Engineering University. Later he transferred to Mink Institute of Physical Education (GIFKB). In the yearly 50’s he worked as a guide for tourist base of “Artybash” in Altai in South Siberia. Although his carrier might seem usual it is hard to explain certain points in his biography. He could have stayed in the army, but left it. He could have stayed and work as a tourist guide at one tourist base and yet he moves across the country repeatedly without explanation. Additionally being a Cossack from the South it is highly unusual that he never got married, never had any kids and had numerous strange tattoos that he hid under his clothing. These tattoos included his birth year “1921”, a military slogan as well as letter Г+С+П=Д. The last was common among Soviet soldiers who served together for a long time. Russian letter “Д” stands for “дружба” or “friendship”. Three letters were first letters of the three soldiers. “С” stood for “Семен” or “Semen” in Russian. Others two names are unknown. We can only make guesses.
(Людмила Дубинина)- born in 1938 she was a third year student in UPI university in Engineering and Economics Major. She was active in tourist club, liked to sing and take pictures. Many of the pictures of the last trip were done by her. During an expedition to the Eastern Sayan Mountains in 1957 she received an accidental gunshot from another tourist who was cleaning a rifle. She endured a painful injury courageously. During long and very painful transportation she did not complain and even felt sorry for causing too many troubles to the group.
(Николай Тибо-Бриньоль)– born in 1934 he graduated in 1958 with major in Civil Engineering from UPI University. He was son of a French Communist who was executed during Stalin years. He himself was born in concentration camp for political prisoners. His friends liked him for his energy, good sense of humor and generally friendly open character. Nicolai promised his mother that this would be his last hiking trip.
(Александр Колеватов)– born in 1934, he was a 4th year student at a Physics Major in UPI University. Priory to moving to Sverdlovsk he finished Sverdlovsk Mining and Metallurgy Collegy majoring in metallurgy of heavy nonferrous metals. He distinguished himself as agood student and moved to Moscow to work in secret institute of the Ministry of Medium Machine Building that was called merely by its serial number of I 3394. Later he moved to Research Insitute of Inorganic Materials that was engaged in producing materials for the growing nuclear industry. In 1956 he moved back to Sverdlovsk and joined UPI. His friends described him as diligent, pedantic, methodical with clear leadership qualities.
(Юрий Кривонищенко)– born in 1935 he graduated from UPI University in 1959. While working in Chelyabinsk- 40 a secret nuclear facility he experienced a disaster that became known as Kushtumkoy Accident. On September 29, 1957 plutonium plant experienced radioactive leak. Yuri Or George Krivonishenko was among the people who was sent to clean it up. His body will wear clothes that have traces of radioactivity that some trace to this particular event. However being an engineer Yuri had more knowledge about radioactivity than most people at the time and it is highly unlikely that he kept any of the clothes that he was wearing two years prior to the trip.
(Рустем Слободин)– born in 1936 he graduated from UPI University in 1959. He was a very athletic man, honest and descent, although quiet at times. He liked to play mandolin that he often took during long hiking trips. His father was a professor at another Sverdlovsk University. Although Rustem was ethnically Russian his father gave him a traditional Tatar name following a popular fashion of international friendship of all men. This was USSR after all with its own ideology.
(Юрий Дорошенко)– Born in 1938 he was a student of the same UPI university. He was involved in a relationship with Zina Kolmogorova and even went to met her parents in Kamensk- Urals. Although they broke up he kept a good relationship with Zina Kolmogorova and Igor Dyatlov.
(Зинаида Колмогорова)– born in 1937, she was 4th year student at UPI University at Radio Engineering Major. She was an experienced hiker who had her share of difficulties. During one of her trips she was bitten by a viper. Despite pain and suffering that this bite caused her she refused lighten her load, unwilling to cause hardship to others.
This photo was taken with the group & since what attack them is unknown, this photo reveals something odd in the foreground behind the table.
On a closer look you would think this was one of the skier but if you look long enough the face looks non-human could this be the clue to what attack them on the night of 1959 ? Its still remains a mystery to this day.
Dyatlov Group Diary
Original diary of the group was discovered in the tent. We kept it as it was in the original form. You can make a psychological portrait of the people who wrote it. It is short and some of its sentences apparently made short on purpose to keep to the point. We didn’t add anything. The sentences and events behind them apparently meant more for the people who were describing them. They did not see much point in writing out the whole experience. Just few words to remember.
January 23, 1959
Now we are sitting in the room 531, or rather of course do not sit, but rather frantically shoving into backpacks any oatmeal, cans, canned meat. Zavchoz (head of provision distribution) stands and makes sure everything is included. Where are my felt boots? Y.K (Yuri Krivonischenko) Can we play mandolin on the train? Of course! We forgot the salt! 3kg (kilograms) Igor! Where are you? Where is Doroshenko? Why did he take 20 packs? Give me 15 kopecks. Spring balance, spring balance. Where is spring balance. Can’t fit it. Damn. Who has the knife? Yura drove it to the station. Slave Khalizov has arrived. Hallo, Hallo! Luda is counting the money. The room is an artistic mess. And here we are on the train. We sang all the songs that we know, learned new ones, everyone goes to sleep at 3 (am). I wonder what awaits us in this trip? What will be new? The boys solemnly swore not to smoke the entire trip. I wonder how much they have will power, if they can get by without cigarettes? Everyone is sleeping and Ural taiga is spread in all directions.
(23 January- The group leaves Sverdlovsk (Yekaterinburg today))
(7am) We arrived in Serov (town). We traveled with a group of Blinov. They have… things for hunting and other accessories. At the station we were met with “hospitality”. They didn’t allow us into the building. The policeman stares at us suspiciously. There is no crime or violation, as under communism. Yuri Krivonischenko started to sing a song and a cop grabbed him and took him away. Sergeant explained that the rules of Section 3 prohibited all activity that would disturb the peace of passengers. It is perhaps the only train station where the songs are forbidden. Finally everything is settled with the law. Going to Ivdel from Serov at 6:30pm. We were welcomed warmly in school near the railway station. Zavchos, who is also a janitor, heated water for us, gave us everything she could to help us during our track. We are free all day. I wanted to go to the city, visit nature museum or take a trip to a factory, but too much time is taken by distribution of equipment and training. 12:00pm In the interval between 1st and 2ND shifts in school we organized a meeting with the students. Small room is cramped with all the kids that are curious. Zolotarev: “Kids, now we’ll tell you… Tourism is, makes it possible to…” Everyone is sitting, quiet, worried. Z. Kolmogorova: Tra- ta- ta- ta. What’s your name? Where were you before? And she went on and on. There was no end of questions toward Zina. We had to explain every detail to the kids, from torches to setting up tents. We spent 2 hours lecturing and kids did not want to let us go. They sang songs to each other. At the station we saw the whole school. In the end, when we were leaving, the kids yelled and cried, asking Zina to remain with them. They promised to listen to her and study well. On a train station some young alcoholic accused us of stealing his wallet from a pocket. For the second time the police is on the scene. Debate- talk about love thanks to provocation by Z. Kolmogorova. Songs, revision, Dubinina under the seat, garlic bread without water and we arrived in Ivdel around 12am. Large waiting room. Total freedom of action. Took turns all night to keep stuff safe. Bus to Vijay leaves early in the morning.
Culture Palace in Serov as the tourists saw it
Night of 25th January- the Dyatlov Group arrives in Ivdel that is located 340 km North of starting point)
We slept in so- called hotel. Two people per bed. Sasha K. (Alexander Kolevatov) and Krivoy (Yuri Krivonischenko) slept on the floor between beds. Woke up at 9am. Everyone sleep well despite the fact we did not completely close the small window and room got a bit cold. Outside temperature is -17C. We did not boil in the morning, wood is moist, in the evening it took us 6 hours to boil water. Went to lunch in the dining room. Had some goulash and tea. Then they served tea Igor Dyatlov spoke with a smile: “If the tea is cold, then go out and drink it on the street, it will be hot”. The original though. Agreed to go to 41 by car. We left only at 13:10 (1:10pm). Froze while riding on top of GAZ- 63. While traveling sang songs, discussed various topics, including love, friendship and problems of cure for cancer. 41st settlement they met us friendly, gave us a private room in the hostel. Talked with the local workers. I remembered particularly the red- bearded man. The Beard as his friends call him. Ognev, old friend, described by Lyuba Dubinina in her private diary. Cooked lunch, then ate and now resting. Half of the group is watching movie, another is sitting on backpacks doing their things. Rustik (Rustem Slobodin) is playing his mandolin, while talking with Nicky, and I am going to deal with adjusting the equipment.
(26th January- the group leaves Ivdel and get a ride with GAZ 63 to the 41st Kvartal (Quarter))
The weather is good, the wind is blowing in the back. Guys agreed wit the locals and horse with drive us to Second Severniy settlement. From 41st settlement it will be about 24 km. We helped grandfather Slava to unload hay from a carriage and waited for the horse (she went to get more hay and wood). We waited until 4:00. Boys started rewriting some song. One guy sang beautifully. We heard a number of illegal prison songs (Article 58 counter- revolutionary crimes). Ognev told Igor how to find the house in which we can spend the night. We bought four loaves of bread and went there at 4:00. Soft warm bread. Ate 2 pieces. Horse is slow. What a pleasure to go without backpacks. We covered 8 km in 2 hours. (River Ushma). It gets darker. All the delay due to a horse. Yuri Yudin is riding with us. He suddenly fell ill and he can’t continue with the track. He wants to gather few local minerals for the University and return. Second Severniy (Northern) is an abandoned village of geologists with total of 2025 houses. Only one is suitable for living. In complete darkness we found a village and the house. We started a fire. Several people pierced their hands with old nails. Everything is good. Then the horse came. We were talking and throwing jokes till 3 o’clock in the morning.
(27th January- Dyatlov group leaves Vizhay and set on a trip to Mount Otorten)
We were awaken by Yurka Kri and Sasha Kolevatov. Weather is perfect. It is only -8C outside. After breakfast, some of the guys headed by Yury Yudin, our well- known geologist, went to look for local minerals. They didn’t find anything except pyrite and quartz veins in the rock. Spend some time with skiis, fixed and adjusted the mounting. Yuri Yudin now goes back home. It is a pity, of course, that he leaves us. Especially for me and Zina, but nothing can be done about it.
(28th January- Yuri Yudin departs from a Second Severniy (Northern) village. Few picture of the village are below. Another depressing abandoned place on vast stretches of Siberia. Some of the houses (“izba” in Russian) are abandoned and began to fall apart.)
We go up the river Lozva. We take turns to head the group for about 10 minutes. Depth of snow cover is significantly less than last year. Often we have to stop and scrape the wet, melting snow from skis. Yurka Kri is behind and makes sketches of the route. We pass few cliffs on the right bank of Lozva river. Overall the terrain becomes flatter. We stop at 5:30pm. Today we spend our first night in the tent. The guys are busy with the stove. With some thing completed and others not, we sit for a dinner. After dinner we sit around the campfire and sing beautiful songs. Zina even tries to learn how to play mandolin under guidance of our musician Rustik (Rustem Slobodin). Then again and again we resume our discussions, mostly about love. Someone comes up with an idea that we need a special notebook for ideas that we might come up with. Once we are done we are making our way inside the tent. No body wants to sleep by the stove and we agree that Yurka Kri will sleep there. Yuri moves to the second compartment with terrible cursing and accusation that we betrayed him. We can’t fall asleep for awhile and arguing about something.
Second day of our trip. We made our way from Lozvy river to river Auspii. We walked along a Mansi (native Siberian tribe in the Urals) trail. The weather is -13C. The wind is weak. We often find ice on the Lozvy river. That is it.
January 30, 1959
Diary is written on the cold on the go. Today is a third cold night on the shore of Auspii river. The stove does a great job. Some (Thibaut and Krivonischenko) think we need to construct steam heat in the ten. The curtains hung in the tent are quiet justified. We get up at 8:30am. After breakfast we walk along the Auspii river, but again these ice dams do not allow us to move forward. Let’s go to the shore of the sledge- deer trail. In the middle of the road the discovered markings left by the Mansi (below left photo, these markings simply tell how many local hunters passed through this area and the family clan to which they belong). Mansi, Mansi, Mansi. This words is repeated more often in our conversations. Mansi are people of the north. Very interesting and unique people that inhabit the North Polar Urals, closed to the Tyumen region. They have a written language and leave characteristic signs on forest trees.
Other photo taken with a strange out of place black mass that looks like a creature of some kind in the foreground
a closer look
Dyatlov’s tent with a stove sticking out from one side
Weather: temperature in the morning is between -17 C and -13C during the day and -26C at night. The wind is strong, south- west and snow begins to fall. The clouds are think. The temperature characteristic of the Northern Urals. Mansi signs tell about animals they saw, resting stops and other things. It is particularly interesting to solve its meaning for the tourists as well as historians. Deer trail is over. The forest gradually thins out and gets shorter. Lots of dwarf birches and pines. It is impossible to walk on the river. It is not frozen. We have to look for solid ground. Day wore on and we started to look for a place for bivouac. That’s the stop for the night. Strong west wind. It knocks the snows off the cedar and pine trees, creating the impression of the falling snow. As always we start a fire and put a tent on the spruce branches. We are warmed by the fire and go to sleep.
January 31, 1959
Today the weather is a bit worse than the wind (west), snow (probably from pines) because the sky is perfectly clear. Came out relatively early (around 10am). Took the same beaten Mansi trail. So far we walked along the Mansi trail, which was passed by a deer hunter not long ago. We met his resting stop yesterday, apparently. Today was surprisingly good accommodations for the tent, air is warm and dry, despite the low temperature of -18C to -24C. The walking is especially hard today. Visibility is very low. We walk for 1.52 km (1 mile) per hour. We are forced to find new methods of clearing the path for the skis. The first member leaves his bag on the ground and walks forward, then he returns, rests for 10- 15 minutes with the group Thus we have a non- stop paving of the trail. It is especially hard for the second to move down the new trail with full gear on the back. We gradually leave the Auspii valley, the rise is continuous, but quiet smooth. We spend a night at the forest boundary. Wind is western, warm, penetrating. Snow- free spaces. We can’t leave any of our provision to ease the ascend to the mountains. About 4pm. We must choose the place for the tent. Wind, some snow. Snow cover is 1.22 meters thick. Tired and exhausted we started to prepare the platform for the tent. Firewood is not enough. We didn’t dig a hole for a fire. Too tired for that. We had supper right in the tent. It is hard to imagine such a comfort somewhere on the ridge, with a piercing wind, hundreds kilometers away from human settlements.
Igor Dyatlov (last record in the diary)
(31st January- Dyatlov group leaves some of their gear in a forest on a platform set high above ground (known as “labaz” or camp base).)
(1st February- The group leaves on the last day of their trip. They start out fairly late and walk for only 2.5 miles. They set a tent around 5pm on a slope of Kholat Syakhl just 10 miles from the Mount Otorten. They eat their last dinner between 6- 7pm. Subsequent investigation showed that one or two of the members left the tent to urinate outside of the tent. Since Semen Zolotarev and Nicolai Thibeaux-Brignolle were better dressed it was suggested that it was the two men who left their shelter before Something happened.)
Last Pictures of the Group ALIVE!
These are the last pictures of the group made on February 1st, 1959. Records show that the sun set behind horizon at 5:02pm on this date. Pictures were made just before the night descended on the mountain. Judging by photos they are well equipped by well protected. At least by the standards of that time. Low visibility due to wind and snow is an important aspect, since this could significantly impact the movement of the group. Hypothermia and confusion can set it much quicker in these conditions. Disorientation on familiar terrain can happen very quickly and might result in death of a an unlucky victim. Nevertheless Igor Dyatlov and his group set up a tent on a empty slope of the Kholat Syakhl mountain. Some searchers testified that there was no firewood present. Although other witnesses claim to see a wooden log abandoned in the tent. Whatever might be the case the tourists chose to sleep in the cold conditions. Later finding showed that they started their dinner when something happened. This “something” still has people puzzled to this day.
This picture puzzles many people. This is the last picture that was made by the camera of the Dyatlov group. Some say someone accidentally snapped a picture after the tent was discovered. Others claim it was damaged. Some see a man with raised hands and something flashing or burning in the background. Many explanations have surfaced. There is no agreement on it nature though
The investigation Discovery
Dyatlov group Tent after attack inside the tent
The tent was cut from the inside out as they tryed to escape the tent from something that attacked them.
Participants of the search
Boris E. Slobcov
Michael P. Sharavin
Vadim D. Brusnicin
Eugene P. Maslenikov
Georgy S. Ortykov
Lev Nikitich Ivanov
Initially the officials were hesitant to sound an alarm about tourists when they missed their day they were supposed to call. from Vizhay Group of Blinov that was mentioned in the Dyatlov diary on January 24th returned in the middle of February and reported a heavy snowstorm in the area of the Kholat Syakhl and future Dyatlov Pass. In light of this information it was assumed that tourists are spending these extra days somewhere in the safety. Risking lives to make extra miles do get back at the due date made no sense. Head of sport club of UPI, Lev Semenovich Gordo, even lied about receiving a telegram from Dyatlov about the delay to calm parents of Dubinina and Kolevatov. He assumed that in few days the group of Igor Dyatlov is going to make it anyway. Relatives eventually forced to organize a search party by complaining to the local head of the Communist party. Negative publicity was unwanted and actions had to be taken. The head of the military department of UPI, Colonel Georgy Semenovich Ortyukov, took charge of search and rescue party. Many of students volunteered to find look for their lost friends. Several rescue parties were sent to the region on 21st of February. One of these groups were headed by Blinov and another Sogrin. Both groups just returned from their trips and knew the conditions of the region. Another group of Vladislav Karelin was in the area and joined the search effort. Planes took off from Ivdel airport to search for the group from the air.
On February 22nd several prison guards from the IvdelLAG under leadership of captain A.A. Chernischev and another 7 officers of MVD (cops) under command of leutenant Potapov have joined the search. Another three groups were formed in UPI from student volunteers under leadership of Oleg Grebennik, Moises Akselrod and Boris Slobcov. Additionally local mansi hunters volunteered to help and look for the vanished group. Moscow sent several specialists including E.P. Maslenikov, Baskin, Bardin and Schulzhenko.
On February 23rd group of Boris Slobcov was dropped near mount Otarten, a final destination for Dyatlov. The next day on February 24th they reached the mountain and came to conclusion that tourists never made it this far. Students did not find any records, flags or anything else that would indicate recent visit of a group.
On February 25th Boris Slobcov and his group finally discovered the trail of skis that he assumed to be that of Dyatlov. The next day on February 26th they discovered the tent on the slope of Kholat Syakhl. Ironically Slobcov was among those who actually helped to construct the tent three years earlier from two tents, making it longer and larger. He recognized it immediately. Unfortunately no one expected to find the tourists dead so there was no attempt to preserve or record the footprints of people around the Dyatlov Pass. To this day there has been a discussion of exactly how many people were in this pass on that fateful day. However judging by words of the people involved in the search and who took the lower right picture there were definitely 8- 9 tracks of footprints left by tourists who wore almost no footwear. Their feet pressed the snow and this left a characteristic “columns” of pressed snow with a footprint on top. Members of the group walked in a single file with a tall men walking in the back. His footprints partially covered footprints of his friends who walked in front of him. Overall the path gave an impression of organized and uneventful descent down the slope of the mountain. Several trails would deviate from the general direction, but then rejoin the group. Other footprints were also discovered and photographed. It is hard to say if these were left by someone else or rescuers themselves.
The first thing that the rescue party discovered was a tourist tent with the stove that the Dyatlov made by himself. For reasons that are were never answered, the sides of the tent were cut by the tourists. Judging by the number of cuts they were made from inside. It is hard to explain why they chose this strange exit for leaving the tent completely ignoring the entrance. Many of the members were not fully clothed then this happened. Yet, warm clothes, shoes, sweaters, knives and anything that could keep them warm and help survive in Siberian wilderness were abandoned. In fact most of the footwear and clothes were stacked in the middle and edges of the tent. Additionally Boris Slobcov discovered a flash light of Chinese production on the roof of the tent. It laid on a snow cover 5-10 cm in thickness and had no snow on top. He turned on the flashlight. It was in working condition. Students retrieved three photo cameras from the tent, group diary, some alcohol and few minor things. They hurried down the mountain to the campsite that was already established at the base of the mountain. Several mansi natives joined the group. Additionally Egor Semenovich Nevolin, a radioman, joined the search party. At 6pm they radioed back about their discovery on the last campsite of the Dyatlov group. UPI informed them that a large search group with will be delivered by a helicopter to their location. They would also deliver two large military tents for better comfort and security. A detective would join the search and rescue effort with Colonel Ortyukov as well.
Several members started cooking dinner while every one else attempted to find clues about the direction of future searches. They found 710 rubles and railroad tickets for the whole group. Most took this as a sign of a good omen. They assumed that criminals were not involved since they would steal everything of value. During dinner Boris Slobcov raised a toast for the health of his friends and expressed hope that they will be found soon. One of the locals, Ivan Paschin, was less optimistic about prospects of finding everyone alive and suggested that they should probably drink for the dead rather than the living. It was a big mistake. Students took these words as offensive and almost beat up the local for his pessimism. Still no one could believe in the possibility that that group of young women and men can simply perish like that in Siberian Taiga.
27th February- The next morning Yury Koptelov and Michael Scharavin went to look for a new place for a campsite. They explored the valley of the Lozva river when a tall cedar attracted their attention. A fairly even and large area near this cedar could provide the search party a better view of the mountain and surrounding locations. Both men approached the cedar and stopped. Two bodies lay in the snow and remains of the fire were visible near by. Bodies were carefully laid side by side. Snow wasn’t very deep in this location due to constant blow of the wind so it became very clear that they found two bodies of the missing group. The first thing that stroke the searching group was the cloths of the dead. They had no shoes and were almost completely naked. Some theories later will blame this on “paradoxical undressing”, but we will see later that it had nothing to do with the mental condition of the tourists. Prosecutor of Ivdel, Vasily Ivanovich Tempalov, discovered another body just 400 meters from the cedar. The body of a man laid on the back with his head pointing in the direction of the tent. Students quickly recognized Igor Dyatlov, the head of the group. Mansi hunters with their dogs started to explore the mountain side and quickly discovered the body of Kholmogorova about 500 meters from Dyatlov group. The position of her body pointed in the direction of the tent. It became evident that both tourists actually tried to make way from the tall cedar back to the tent, but didn’t make it all the way.
Two Bodies under Cedar. Still unidentified
Bodies of Yuri Krivonishenko and Yuri Doroshenko on the left. On the right are remains of the extinguished fire and a cedar that according to some tourists is still there. Although it is hard to find the exact location today.
Igor Dyatlov top how his body was found,bottom with the snow removed.
Zina Kholmogorova body
Meanwhile the contents of the tent from the Dyatlov group were removed. This happened chaotically, without any order, photos or even presence of anyone from the law. Students simply removed the objects and attempted to organize belongings by name. We can understand their honest desire to return these things to families of the dead, however in doing so they undermined any research in this area. We have only few testimonies from the people who undertook these actions. Some of them were conflicting and thus more confusing. They discovered that the group was apparently was about to have their dinner. A self made newspaper “Evening Otorten” was also found here. The date was marked as 1st February 1959. One of the unusual and unexpected findings was a skiing pole that with clear cutting marks. Tourists didn’t have any extra poles. It is unclear why someone in the right mind would damage the pole on purpose. Among other things tourists also left their footwear. Many had two pairs, one for the actual hike and another, softer one, were used in the tent to keep warm at night. Both pairs were found abandoned. This could be explained that whatever forced them out of the tent came in the time then everyone was changing and preparing for a sleep. Additionally the tent contained several knives and hatchets. These were abandoned too for some reason, although some tourists had knives with them when they left.
Next week of search did not yield any results. Only thing that was found was another Chinese flash light in the valley of Lozva valley. The batteries were dead, but the flash light was in “on” position. On March 2nd three students and two Mansi hunters discovered a camp base in the Auspiya valley. Tourists left some of their food provision and gear to lighten the load (55 kg in total). Additionally there were mandolin of Rustem Slobodin, few clothes, ski shoes and a pair of skis. On the way back tourists intended to retrieve these things. None of these things were taken however.
On March 3rd many of the students returned home, since they had to return to their studies. Moscow specialists also left. Their report is somewhat short and inconclusive. They could not explain the reason why would several normal people would abandon the tent in the middle of the night without shoes and little protection from the wind.
digging around the tent
Michael Sharavin (left), Vladimir Strelnikov, Boris Slobcov, Vyacheslav Chalizov (right holding a map) Photo by V. Brusnicin (25th February 1959)
On March 5th the body of Rustem Slobodin was recovered. He was discovered on the same general line from a cedar to a tent. His position was in between bodies of Dyatlov (180 meters away) and Kholmogorova (150 meters). He was the only member of the group that fell while fairly warm. The head from his body melted the snow that subsequently froze forming a frozen bed underneath the dead body. His watches recorded 8:45.
The cedar had its lower branches cut. Later inspection showed that part of human skin and blood was still lodged in the bark crevices. Bodies of both tourists were laying side by side near an extinguished fire. Part of their clothes were carefully cut off. Pants of Yuri Krivonishenko were left in place. They showed certain degree of radioactivity. After initial discovery of five bodies remaining four tourists were found almost half a mile away in May of the same year. This group managed to dig a den in the snow to keep themselves warm. These bodies had broken ribs, broken skull and in case of Lyudmila Dubinina a missing tongue. Above you see a tent that belonged to the group.
Judging by the type of helicopters and their markings there were at least three machines involved in search and rescue efforts. This included at least one civilian (bottom left picture) and at least two military helicopters. Soviet Union rarely showed so much dedication in search of common tourists. Some explain this care as ties to KGB of one or more members from the Dyatlov group. However another explanation might lie in the fact that climb of Mount Otorten was devoted to Communist Congress in Moscow. Obviously it had certain degree of political motivation for the officials to spare no costs in searches.
Judging by the remains near the bodies it was concluded that young men and women managed to start a fire, but failed to sustain it for extended period of time. However no one could explain why bodies showed so many fractures, internal bleeding, burned parts of the body. Another perplexity and mystery were added by a fact that two of the sweaters showed increased radiation levels. A fact that no one could explain fifty years ago and to this day remains a mystery. Several witnesses and family members reported strange discoloration on the bodies of the victims. One of the family members compared their skin color to those of the people of African descent. Additionally the group was missing at least one camera and a diary of Kolevatov. Yury Yudin testifies that he led a detailed description in his own blog in addition to the diary that was a group diary. It went missing either on the mountain or from evidence room. Either way no one remembered seeing it.
Ludmila Dubinina Body
bodies of Alexander Kolevatov and Nikolay Thibeaux-Brignolle
The den was made by surviving four members of the Dyatlov group 70- 75 meters from the cedar in a ravine that was hidden from cold winds. It was probably an idea of Zolotarev. It was a common way to survive winters at the front and given the circumstances it offered the best chance for survival for those who remained behind waiting in hope that their three friends will make it to the top of the mountain. It further undermines the theory of paradox undressing. The group clearly realized their threats and did everything they could to preserve themselves. Cedar branches were brought here and laid out to minimize contact of human bodies and cold snow underneath. Furthermore Ludmila Dubinina had sweater and pants of Krivonischenko. Both as it turned out had radiation present on them. However the strangeness of the case was not resolved. In fact it became more weird. All, but three members had significant damage to their bones. They were crushed with immense force. Doctors compared the extend of the damage to being hit by a car. A second thing that is striking about the den is that bodies were actually found few feet from their improvised shelter in the deep part of the ravine on the area of only 4 square meters. Some of the clothes that were taken from bodies left underneath the cedar tree were placed on the cedar branches, but apparently they were not used.
Ortyukov is in military uniform and radio man is pictured here in a stripped hat. Removal of the bodies from a ravine.
Dubinina and Thibeaux-Brignolle bodies
Zolotarev and Kolevatov bodies
Medical Autopsy of the bodies
Autopsy of first four bodies (Doroshenko, Krivonischenko, Dyatlov, Kholmogorova) was performed in a village of Vizhai on March 4th, 1959 by Boris Alekseevich Vozrojdenniy (ironically his last name means “reborn” in Russian, interesting choice of profession). He recorded damages and clothing that the victims wore at the time of their discovery. Autopsy of Rustem Slobodin who was found on the 5th of March was performed on 8th of March.
Yury Doroshenko is one of the two tourists that were found under a cedar. He was most sturdy and tallest member of the group at a height of 180 cm. He was wearing a vest and a shirt, short sleeve shirt, knit pants and shorts over pants. On his feet a pair of wool socks. Pants had tears inside of the thighs. Additionally the left foot had burnt socks (marked by 13). No footwear.
– ear, nose and lips are covered by blood (marked by 2)
– right armpit has a bruise 2cm*1.5 cm (3)
– inner surface of the right shoulder has two abrasions 2cm*1.5cm with no bleeding in the tissues, two cuts on the skin (5)
– in the upper third of right forearm brown- red bruises with size 4*1cm, 2.5*1.5cm, 5*5cm (6)
– fingers on both hands have torn skin (9 and 10)
– bruised skin in the upper third of both legs (11)
– signs of frostbite on face and ears
– on the right cheek, foamy gray fluid discharges from the mouth
Amount of urine was 150 grams. Foamy grey fluid that was found on the right cheek of the deceased gave some doctors a reason to think that before death someone or something was pressing on his chest cavity. Discharges were quiet common during forceful interrogation by the NKVD (Stalin’s Secret Police) and Special Forces. This could also be a reason of a nasty fall from a tree. Nevertheless this aspect was ignored in the final papers. Cause of death: hypothermia.
George (Yuri) Krivonischenko
His body was the second discovered underneath the cedar. He was dressed in shirts, long sleeved shirt, swimming pants, pants and torn sock on his left leg. He had no footwear.
– bruises on the forehead 0.3*1.8cm and a bruise around left temporal bone (1)
– diffuse bleeding in the right temporal and occipital region due to damage to temporalis muscle (2)
– tip of the nose is missing (3)
– frostbitten ears (4)
– bruises on the right side of the chest 7*2cm and 2*1.2cm (5)
– bruises on hands (6)
– detachment of the epidermis on the back of his left hand at width of 2cm (7)
– portion of the epidermis from the right hand is found in the mouth of the deceased
– bruises on the thighs (8-11) with minor scratches
– bruise on his left buttock 10*3cm (16)
– abrasions on the outer side of the left size 6*2cm and 4*5 cm (17-18)
– bruises on the left leg 2*1, 2*1.5 and 3*1.3 cm (19-21)
– burn on the left leg 10*4 cm (15)
The amount of urine in the bladder was 500 grams. Cause of death: hypothermia. He froze to death. The presence of skin between his teeth that was torn from his hands might suggest that Krivonischenko tried to stay on the cedar as long as he could. Some theories speculate it was a result of his dedication to cut as many tree branches as he could. Others claim something on the ground kept him on a tree.
The first two bodies of (Doroshenko and Krivonischenko) that were found from the Dyatlov Incident showed an expected pattern of death. They froze to death. Their clothes were removed by their friends. It might sound bad, but this is the reality of Siberia. If you can’t keep yourself warm, you will die quickly. One of the most common myths that surround these deaths is a theory of so- called “paradoxical undressing”. This theory ignores the fact that the bodies were undressed after they died and it was done by other members with a help of a knife in some cases. Different articles of clothing were simply cut from the dead bodies or taken off and used by other members of a group. These tourists clearly showed logical will to live. There was no state of panic and there was no illogical actions. Bodies were carefully and respectfully laid side by side and their possessions were divide among the survivors.
Zinaida was better dressed than bodies underneath the cedar. She had two hats, long sleeved shirt, sweater, another shirt and a sweater with torn cuffs. It was unclear whether she cut them off or they were torn by another person. She also had trousers, cotton athletic pants, ski pants with three small holes on the bottom. She also had three pairs of socks. No footwear and a military mask.
– swelling of meninges (important feature of hypothermia)
– frostbites on the phalanges of fingers (2)
– numerous bruises on hands and palms (2 and 3)
– a long bruise that encircled her on the right side, 29* 6cm (1 and 4)
Amount of urine in bladder is 300 g. Her cause of death was proclaimed as a hypothermia due to violent accident. Further studies proved that she was not sexually active at the time of her death.
The head of the deceased was bare. He had unbuttoned fur coat with pockets, a sweater, long sleeved shirt, ski pants over his pants. Footwear was absent. He had only one pair of socks, woolen on the right, cotton on the left. It is hard to explain this uneven distribution. It could be that he had two socks on one foot and later took it off to protect the other bare foot. It might have been someone else’s sock who simply gave it away to protect a friend from a certain death. He had a pocket knife and a photo of Zina Kolmogorova. The clock on the hand showed 5:31
– minor abrasions on the forehead (1)
– abrasions above the left eyebrow of brown- red color (2)
– brown- red abrasions on both cheeks (3)
– dried blood on lips
– lower jaw had a missing incisor, the mucosa was intact that suggest the tooth was lost long before the final trip
– on the lower third of the right forearm and the palm surface many small scratches of dark red coloration (4)
– metacarpophalangeal joints on the right hand had brown red bruises. This is common injury in hand to hand fights. To get a better idea of the injuries just make a fist. This is the part of the hand which you use to hit someone.
– brownish- purple bruises on the left hand, also superficial wounds on the 2nd and 5th finger (5)
– bruised knees without bleeding into the underlying tissues (6)
– on the lower third of the right leg bruising (7)
– both ankles had abrasions, bright red, size 1*0.5 cm and 3.0*2.5 cm. Hemorrhage into the underlying tissue (8)
There were no internal injuries. Amount of urine in the bladder about one liter. The cause of death was hypothermia. Later Yury Yudin will testify that the long sleeved shirt found on the body of Igor Dyatlov was his. But he gave it to Doroshenko then he was departing. It would be logical to assume that Dyatlov got it from a frozen body of the Doroshenko after he had died.
Rustem wore a long sleeve shirt, another shirt, sweater, two pairs of pants, four pairs of socks. Unlike previous bodies he wore one boot on his right leg. His watches stopped at 8:45am. His pockets had 310 rubles and a passport. Additionally searchers discovered a knife, pen, pencil, comb and a match box with a single sock.
– minor brownish red abrasions on the forehead, two scratches are 1.5 cm long at the distance of 0.3 cm between them (1)
– brownish red bruise on the upper eyelid of the right eye with hemorrhage into the underlying tissues (2)
– traces of blood discharge from the nose (3)
– swollen lips
– swelling and a lot of small abrasions of irregular shape on the right half of the face (4)
– abrasions on the left side of the face (5)
– epidermis is torn from the right forearm (6)
– bruises in the metacarpophalangeal joints on both hands. Similar bruises are common in hand to hand combat (7)
– brown cherry bruises on the medial aspect of the left arm and left palm (8)
– bruises on the left tibia in dimensions at 2.5* 1.5 cm (9)
Fracture of the frontal bone and hemorrhages (shaded areas) in the temporalis muscle that were found on the skull of Rustem Slobodin. Boris Alekseevich Vozrojdenniy suggested that this could be done with some foreign blunt object. Medical autopsy further states that Slobodin probably suffered loss of coordination due to initial shock right after the blow that could speed up his death from hypothermia. However the conclusion is predictably careful. Death of Rustem Slobodin is judged as a result from hypothermia. All bruises and scratches were blamed on last minute agony. Although it is still somewhat unclear how did he manage to harm his exterior hands and legs. When the person falls even in an irrational state it is usually the palms that suffer the most as well as medial aspects of the legs. Injury to the head are less common, especially bilateral ones. It is also usual to harm the face and sides of the skull while the back of the head has no damage. In case of Slobodin body we see the opposite. His injury pattern is a reverse of what we would usually see in injuries suffered by a freezing man in the last minutes of his or her life. It looks as if Rustem fell repeatedly on his face as he was walking down the mountain. And every time he fell he managed to hit the sides of the his head. It is unusual to see in a man who was probably in a better physical shape than anyone in the group. Even a long ski trip could hardly be responsible for this alleged “clumsiness
The remaining four bodies were inspected on May 9th, 1959. Their bodies were found several months after their deaths by a Mansi native Kurikov with his dog.
Ludmila wore a short sleeve shirt, long sleeve shirt, and two sweaters. The body was covered by underwear, long socks, two pairs of pants. External pair was badly damaged by fire and subsequently ripped. She also wore a small hat and two pairs of warm sock. A third sock was not paired. Ludmila apparently in the last attempt to preserve her feet took off her sweater and cut it in two pieces. One half she rapped around her left foot. Another half she left or dropped unintentionally on the snow.
– tongue is missing
– soft tissues are missing around eyes, eyebrows, and left temporal area, bone is partially exposed (1)
– eyes are missing (1)
– nose cartilages are broken and flattened (2)
– 2, 3, 4, 5 ribs are broken on the right side, two fracture lines are visible (3)
– 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 ribs are broken on the right side, two fracture lines are visible (4)
– soft tissues of the upper lip are missing, teeth and and upper jaw is exposed
– massive hemorrhage in the heart’s right atrium
– bruise in the middle left thigh, size 10*5cm (6)
– damaged tissues around left temporal bone, size 4*4cm (7)
Occasionally you hear claims that the tongue was ripped, or eaten, or whatnot. The medical records simply that “the tongue is missing”. Vozrojdenniy describes missing hypoglossal muscle as well as muscles of the floor of the mouth. That is it. There is no explanation, theories, condition of the surrounding tissues. It looks weird especially given the fact previous bodies had more detailed autopsies. There is no credible explanation for this vague statement. Although it is mentioned that the stomach contained about 100 g of coagulated blood. It is used by some as an indication that the heart was beating and the blood was flowing when tongue was removed from a mouth. The cause of death is stated as hemorrhage into right atrium of the heart, multiple fractured ribs and internal bleeding.
– eye balls are missing (1)
– missing soft tissues around left eye brow, size 7*6cm, bone is exposed (2)
– flair chest, broken 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 ribs on the right side, two fracture lines (3)
– open wound on the right side with exposed bone, 8*6cm in size (4).
Both Zolotarev and Dubinina have an interesting pattern of injuries. They are very similar in direction and force despite difference in shape, height and body composition of the two. This would suggest that whatever caused these injuries was not a single uniform event.
– lack of soft tissues around eyes, eyebrows are missing, skull bones are exposed
– broken nose (2)
– open wound behind ear, size 3*1.5cm (6)
– deformed neck (4)
– multiple fractures to the temporal bone, with extensions to the frontal and sphenoid bones (1), the close up of the fractures to the skull is shown below
– bruise on the upper lip on the left side (2)
– hemorrhage on the lower forearm, size 10*12cm (3)
Vozrojdenniy, who undertook the autopsy, excluded accidental fall on the rock as a possible cause for such a massive and unusual fracture. Some theorized that the shape might be due to pressure applied during alleged avalanche that hit unsuspected tourists while they slept in the tent. If Nikolay slept on a camera this sudden increase in pressure could leave a mark on his head, however the shape of the lens is round and the damage would have a more round shape. Another reason why some specialists refused this theory is a massive hemorrhage that would make Thibeaux- Brignolle unable to move on his own and leave the site of the tent. There was no signs of dragging on the snow and foot prints suggest that everyone in the group moved on their own two feet
Tent is ripped from the inside. Initially the fact was overlooked, but a woman who worked for the police department laundry services clearly identified that the damage came from the inside. Further expertise proved her hypothesis to be correct.
Nine tourist leave the tent with little clothes while outside temperature dipped to -30°C (-22°F). Most of them lacked proper footwear. Warm clothes, boots are left inside the abandoned tent. Survivors go to extreme lengths to preserve themselves in their harsh conditions. They even cut the clothes of their dead friends to protect themselves. They even dig a den that does not save them. Thus the theory of “paradox undressing” has no support in the available facts.
One of the poles show signs of damage made by the knife.
Presence of radiation on the cloths that were worn by one of the members of the group (George (Yuri) Krivonischenko).
Kolevatov kept a personal diary. Yuriy Yudin, the only survivor of the group, testified that it was with him on the last trip. The diary went missing.
Judging by the pictures of the group at least one of the cameras went missing.
Strange unidentified cloth “obmotki”, an old school version of socks, was found near the bodies.
Missing tongue. Cause is unknown. What makes the fact more mysterious is lack of coherent explanation or description of the damage. Autopsy doesn’t mention the state or nature of the surrounding tissues.
The bodies of the dead tourists show signs of unexplained damages including broken ribs, scrapes and etc.
Semen Zolotarev introduces himself as “Alexander” to the group. In fact common memorial to the group lists his name incorrectly.
Semen Zolotarev and George (Yuri) Krivonischenko are buried separately from the rest of the group on a cemetery that is officially closed for several years.
Money, food, valuables likes watches, alcohol and blankets remain in place.
Several theories arose in the last decades concerning the case of Dyatlov Pass accident
Siberia at the time of the tragedy was still a land of Gulag. Many political prisoners were released in 1953- 56, but criminals were still behind bars. Many small concentration camps were dispersed all over the region. The closest was Ivlag situated just few miles from a site of a tragedy. Although it is true that there were no escapes around the time of the tragedy it doesn’t mean that it never happened before. History knows many examples then prisoners would escape and go into hiding for years and even decades at a time. They could have easily missed death of Stalin in 1953 and subsequent amnesty to all political prisoners. Young tourists could be taken for unwanted witnesses and subsequently killed. If you take in consideration that many of the political prisoners came straight from the fronts of the World War II it is plausible that these people knew how to kill and were open to the idea. Furthermore Yury Yudin discovered a piece of clothing that did not belong to any of the members of the group. This “obmotki” is a wide piece of clothing that are wrapped around feet or legs to keep them warm. They have distinct shape and made from a particular material. They were widely used among the soldiers in the 40’s and later among the prisoners of Stalin’s concentration camps. No body knows how it got here and no body knows how it disappeared from the evidence room. But it did. This was debunked
Another theory blamed the deaths of tourists on Soviet special forces that simply got rid of unwanted witnesses. People who oppose this scenario point out that none of the rescuers even reported any unusual footprints. Since most of the members of the group had no footwear on one or both legs, their prints were easily recognizable and distinguishable. However the footprints were never closely examined. No one expected to find the tourists’ bodies and missing this key proof is plausible. It is true that government officials were more or less aware of a general route that the group will undertake, but accidents do happen. Soviet Union was still trying out its R- 12 rockets that they adopted in March 1959. Not all launches were successful. And Soviet engineers certainly did not want to scream about their failures. Furthermore the home town of students Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg) was encircled by several units of anti- aircraft rockets. Let’s not forget that through much of the 50’s Soviet army was basically defenseless against American spy planes. The first success actually happened a year later in May of 1959 then Soviet rockets shot down U2 spy plane piloted by Francis Gary Powers just 67 km (43 mi) west of Sverdlovsk. Soviet intelligence still keeps many of its secrets and hasn’t revealed any information on the events that took part in February of 1959.
Now it might seem like implausible and outright dumb, but it has right to be told anyway. This theory is based on the fact that American and Western spies had hard time working in Soviet Union in the 50’s. Stalin’s secret police followed every foreigner that set foot in Russia. So the only way to deliver any information that was crucial was through illegal spy system. This ring of Soviet nationals willing to work for capitalists was especially essential in remote regions of the Soviet Union where nuclear industry was being expanded and developed. Obviously the foreigners were not allowed even close to these sites. So Western intelligence agencies attempted to get Soviet citizens to do all the work for them. There they would pick up needed information that they would deliver back by all means possible. The race for nuclear weapons put greater pressure on the CIA since there was no quick way to proof or disprove that certain site was working for nuclear enrichment. The only way to verify possible site was by delivering any object that contained radioactive material. For example Tomsk- 7 was correctly identified as a site of Soviet nuclear enrichment program by a single ski hat in 1955. It sound absurd now, but in a state of fear and paranoia this was the only way to spy on Soviet Union. Russians were not stupid either. They repeatedly fooled Western by radioactive- tainted material from places that had nothing to do with it. This brings us to so called theory of Western intelligence involvement. According to this theory two or more members of the Dyatlov group were hired by the KGB to deliver fake proof of radioactive tainted clothes. The rest of the group was probably unaware of the real purpose of their journey.
Zolotarev and Krivonischenko might have been the best candidates for this delivery. Krivonischenko worked for a closed facility that was involved in the development of the Soviet nuclear capability. It would be logical to assume that a young and promising student was approached at some point by agents of the Western intelligence agency. If he was “touched” by the spies he might have reported this to an “osobist”, a KGB agent working on the site. This would make Krivonischenko a pawn in a false delivery of radioactive material. But he needed a man who could spot him in a difficult situation.
Many supporters of this theory point to Zolotarev as a possible second agent. He had an experience in a war. He presented himself under a different name to a group. If we look at his official biography it becomes stranger. He mentions serving in the military engineer unit. They usually were first to clear enemy defenses and fell an easy prey to hostile fire. Their losses were simply horrific. Some units lost up to 80% of the their soldiers in just few days of battle for Konigsberg and Berlin. They were offered metal breast plates to reduce casualty rate, but it had little effect in an overall picture. These were basically suicidal units. And Zolotarev managed to serve in one. But here is where normalcy of his resume ends. We start to get peculiarities and questions about his previous life.
He joined the army in October of 1941, but reached the frontlines on May 10th of 1942. In the time then officers were trained for only 3 months and solders got only few days (if they got lucky) of basic training, Zolotarev get full 6 months. He should have been rushed to the front and killed like 97% of all men born with him in the same year. But this does not happen. Furthermore we know that he received 4 medals. This is a lot for a Soviet soldier. Most did not live that long or did not fit the qualifications to receive one. In Soviet Union there were multiple reasons for nor receiving a medal. This included nationality for example. Beginning from 1944 Chechens were not granted any signs of distinction. Chechen families were deported to Kazakhstan beginning on February 23rd, 1944. Giving medals to their sons, brothers and fathers would raise too many question on a legitimacy of such harsh treatment. Another reasons why you couldn’t get distinguished by the government was your social background and the region of the country. Zolotarev was a Cossack (a Russian subculture of professional soldiers/ peasants from the Southern Russia) and he was son of a doctor. Cossacks were too religious and too independent and automatically raised eyebrows in Kremlin. This automatically reduced his chanced to receive any medals. And yet he managed to pull through. He mentions four signs of distinction in his official biography- resume, but he doesn’t describe the circumstances or even location of military actions which yearned him these distinctions. The official biography had its guidelines and were very important before someone would get hired on a job. You had to write down the exact number of the medal in an official document. If you didn’t, the paper would be returned to you with subsequent inquiry with the army. You didn’t want to lie about receiving military distinction without actually earning them. This could result in very serious consequences for Semen “Alexander” Zolotarev. And what do we see? Serial numbers are not mentioned, units are not mentioned, location is not mentioned and yet the paper is accepted and filed despite numerous omissions on behalf of Semen Zolotarev. It would be logical to assume that inquiry that was started might have been cancelled due to KGB involvement.
As you might remember Krivonischenko gets arrested for singing and pretending to beg for money. He gets arrested, but than immediately let go. Some might see a normal person who didn’t want to cancel the trip for a minor transgression. Or it might have been a planned excuse to leave the group and accept radioactively stained clothes. As I mentioned before Krivonischenko was present at Kushtumkoy Accident two years earlier then radiactivity leaked. However being a young professional he certainly would not keep any of the old clothes. Even helicopter pilots refused to fly bodies when they heard that radioactivity was present. So it would be illogical to suggest that Krivonischenko could keep his clothes all that time. The rest of the trip was planned out. Somewhere along the way they were supposed to met “lost tourists” and share clothes as a token of good will. Then they would depart. Something went terribly wrong and these “tourists” simply killed the whole group. This would explain why someone cut from inside of the tent. The recipients of dangerous cargo needed a simple view of the mountain slope while they were searching for any evidence of their presence. As you remember Kolevatov diary and a third camera went missing and there is still no answer of its whereabouts. That would also explain the deaths of first five members. Special forces simply left them to die in the cold to hide their presence. As it was mentioned earlier tourists had at least two pairs of footwear. One was used for a trail and another was used during cold nights. Most of the members had nothing on their feet except for socks. Minor injuries could be overlooked and deaths could easily be ignored. However something went wrong and instead of freezing to death the remaining tourists showed stamina and a will to live. Thus the special forces unit descended down the mountain and killed the remaining group in a state of panic and furious anger. They retreated a missing camera, Kolevatov’s diary and left clothes since it became evident it was a set up. Although seemingly an improbable course history of KGB- CIA relations knows of such “deliveries” made by KGB to fool their American and British partners.This was debunked
In the course of investigation local Mansi tribes also appeared as suspects. Some even remembered a story from the 30’s then a woman geologist ventured into sacred lands of this proud unconquered nation. She was subsequently tied and thrown in the lake. Common journal that was found in the tent also talked about the Mansi. However this theory was abandoned for the lack of evidence or any possible witnesses. Furthermore Kholat Syakhl was never a sacred place. It was feared and it was avoided, but no one considered it important for the beliefs of the native people. If the Mansi were involved in the murder of the tourists they would probably steal many valuable possession that are so important to survival in the harsh climate of Sibiria.This was debunked
Danger of avalanche in the region is quiet common. The Kholat Syakhl mountain is not very tall and it is certainly not very steep. Furthermore the opponents of this theory suggest that tourist diaries report a fairly thin snow cover. However these facts doesn’t exclude the possibility of a small avalanche. A portion of the upper layer of snow could simply shift and role over the tourists as a slab of snow. This could damage the tent and create havoc among tourists who were suddenly trapped underneath several feet of snow. It would certainly explain why the tent was cut from inside. Further retreat would be necessary if the tourists were worried a second avalanche can strike again. According to the supporters of this theory Dyatlov Group tried to make their way back to the Auspiya river and instead made a fatal mistake by descending into a valley of the Lozva river. After 4 weeks the snow that was rushed down the slope of the mountain was simply blown off by the strong winds that are common in the region. This would erase all signs of a natural disaster.
However this theory has its gaps. From what we can tell from the naked footprints left by the group everyone seemed to descent with relative ease. It is highly unlikely that three people with broken ribs and flail chest would be transportable at all. And here we see several badly damaged men and a woman walk without problems or even help from any of the members of the group. Secondly these men and women were experienced and well trained. They knew that chances of freezing to death is more likely than getting killed by an avalanche. Although the removal of the damaged tent from an exposed mountain side was out of the question, they had to retrieve all their warm clothes. And finally if you see on the pictures on February 1st on the left and February 26th (according to Vadim Brusnicin who is sitting on a slope of the mountain with his back toward the camera man) on the right you can see part of the tourist gear that kept its vertical position on the slope weeks after the tragedy stroke. Furthermore the entrance of the tent is clearly elevated. Only the middle portion collapse probably due to hasty escape or weigh of snow simply collecting here. This was debunked
Secret launches/ UFO
Occasionally some of the conspiracy theorists claim that UFO scared the group away. Although seemingly incredible this claim might have some base to it. About the same time Soviet armed forces did launch several rockets from Baykanur base. Although military claimed the rockets landed in the north Ural mountains, several geologists 70 km from the mountains saw some glowing and pulsating orbits flying in the direction of the Kholat Syakhl on a day of tragedy (evening of Febrauary 1st). As part of technological theory there have been suggestions that an infrasound might have been responsible for sudden unpleasant feelings among the tourists.
Lev Ivanov, a man who was in charge of the investigation at the Dyatlov Pass, lived a long life. In the early 1990’s in an interview to a local journalist he made a statement that during his investigation he and E.P. Maslenikov both noticed that the pines in the forest were burned at the top. He also claims that A.P. Kirilenko, member of the Soviet Congress, along with his advisor A.F. Ashtokin forced Ivanov to take out any reference to the unknown flying objects or other strange phenomena. This included pictures of flying spheres drawn by the Mansi hunters and other testimonies. It is true that Soviet Union experienced a boom of interest on everything unknown. Skeptic might also add that Ivanov gave this interview to make some money. However we have to mention that Kirilenko became obsessed with UFO theme. Starting in the early 60’s he filed several requests to gain access to the KGB archives. We don’t know what was found in the documents, but it is undeniably strange that a political figure in USSR paid such interest in this subject. UFO was not investigated by the official science so it deemed as a pseudo- religious phenomena. Atheist Soviet Union obviously prohibited any interest in the subject, especially among members of the highest legislative body in the country.
These are only few of the theories. Many are more bizarre, strange and quiet frankly dumb ideas that circulate out there. Some blame the spirits others blame the paradoxical undressing that lead to hypothermia. All these theories ignore the fact that only two bodies showed signs of undressing after they left the tent. And it was the first two bodies found under the cedar. Their clothes were removed after they died. We can assume the bodies were beginning to show first signs of rigor mortis or stiffness after death. The clothes of dead victims were cut off and later found near the bodies in the den. This proves that people were aware of the danger of hypothermia and tried everything they could to save themselves. Why did they leave the tent with all the clothes and boots inside is still a mystery. Many theories surfaced in the past decades. Few of these, however, explain a wide range of physical injuries that the group experienced. So there is no much point in mentioning them.
Unfortunately these were not the last victims of the Kholat Syakhl. From 1960-61 several airplane crashes took away lives of nine pilots and geologists who were sent here. For a time flights were totally canceled in the region. Among more recent victims of the mountain was a crash of Mi-8 in 2009. Pilots ignored long standing unofficial no- fly zone. Fortunately they survived the cash, but they couldn’t explain why their helicopter went down so quickly and without any warning. Tourists today repeat the track of the Dyatlov group, but none of groups ever contain 9 people. In the early 2000’s a group of 9 tourists under supervision of rescue crew repeated the same descent down the slope of Kholat Syakhl. Despite snow cover and night time none of the participants got any significant bruises or cuts. Those who observed the students did not report any difficulty in locating members on the mountain side. None of the group members were lost and vocal/ eye contact was constant between group members at all times. This only adds to the mystery of what really happened on Kholat Syakhl that day. The case of Dyatlov Pass deaths remains open.
The whole mystery surrounding these deaths,is what made them force them to cut there way through the tent to get out & run into the freezing cold of winter with no protive clotheing & the brazer injury’s they had with no force trauma to the skin.
The case was left as cause of death by a unknown paranormal force.
Here is the Ancient Aliens show that talked about this tragedy:
Deceased Mt. Everest hiker showing the beginning stages of Paradoxical Undressing.